The end of summer and return to school can be tough in any household, but just because it affects your employees and their families at home doesn’t mean the stress won’t carry over into their work. Before the first day back to school actually begins, many employees request PTO for last-minute vacations resulting in various shifts that need filling. After they return, your staff’s daily routine is likely to change. While they may have been showing up early for their 8 a.m. shifts all summer, their child’s new bus schedule may make them late. Similarly, until they have their after-school care scheduled, employees may request to leave early.
So, what can you, as the employer, do to assist your employees while still making sure your company runs smoothly? Here are four actionable steps you can take every year.
Know Your Employees’ Needs
The best way to prepare your business for the back-to-school season is by predicting your staff’s needs. Small companies have the benefit of accessing their team on a regular basis. You know who has children, and you may even be aware of who has childcare. If the size of your staff is so large that you can’t know them all personally, remind your managers during team meetings to reinforce with their teams that it’s time to prepare for the new school year. The first day of school happens at approximately the same time every year so both your employees and your management team can prepare early.
Remind Staff to Use PTO
Supporting your team means promoting a family-friendly workplace. Remind employees of any policies that may affect or benefit their schedule and work-life balance. These might not even be company policies; they might be state or federal regulations that you as an employer have to provide for your staff. Some states, like Massachusetts and their Small Necessities Act, allow qualified employees to take up to 24 hours of unpaid leave to attend to their children’s educational, medical, or dental appointments. Your state may or may not allow something similar.
Since the transition back to school usually takes only a few weeks, the best option is to be flexible with your team. Can you ignore it if your employees are a few minutes late? Maybe you can allow them to make up any missed time on the front or back end of their shifts. Remember, while you may be busy accommodating many different schedules in your company—it won’t last long. Having a supportive superior will build loyalty in your employees and encourage a healthy work-life balance.
However, as flexible as you’d like to be, you simply cannot close your company for a few hours a day while your staff members pick up their children. If you find that many of your employees need childcare, even for a short period of time, consider hiring an on-site childcare provider.
Share Resources With Your Staff
If your organization uses an intranet or sends out a weekly or staff newsletter, focus on the back-to-school routines for your August through September content. Share meal ideas for packed lunches and snacks, or a printable homework chart. Ask your staff to participate. They can share their favorite tips on preparing meals the night before, making the most of hectic mornings, finding discounts on kid’s clothing, and more.
Your team wants to give 100% at work but sometimes life gets in the way. As many are familiar, transitioning back to school can derail even the best laid plans. Follow these steps and you’ll develop a team that works hard to support your business, just as you do to support them.